Saturday, November 30, 2019

Day 3628

I'll never get used to Texas weather. It was so warm today that our air conditioner came on again. It was actually a very nice day; just a little unexpected. I should have taken advantage of the situation because warm weather like this won't last long. Another cold front is probably already on the way.

I got my grocery shopping done right after breakfast so I could be home again when Janet needed to leave. Ginny did well when we were away for Thanksgiving dinner, but we hate to leave her penned up. This is her vacation and we'd like it to be enjoyable. By all indications, Ginny is having a very good time. She is totally relaxed now and like many female Dalmatians is showing us her bossy side. She reminds us a lot of Dot. She is very gentle and well behaved, but isn't shy about letting you know when it's time to get up, when it's time to go to bed, and when it's time for dinner.

I should have made my travel arrangements today, but I never got around to it. I didn't go up on the roof either. Basically all I did was fill the car with gas, get a few groceries, and take my walk when Janet got back home again. Looking after Ginny gave me a good excuse to sit around the house and be lazy. Ginny is definitely a good dog to take a nap with.

The park was packed with people this afternoon. I guess everybody knew that a seventy-five degree day on the last day of November shouldn't be wasted. It's weird that even Mom's pushing strollers are faster than me in the park, but I'm still pretty speedy at my gym. It's all relative I guess. Twenty-five year olds move faster than seventy-five year olds.

The Pelicans were gone today. This happens from time to time. I wonder where they go? They never seem to do anything individually. It's all or nothing with these birds. They probably just get bored swimming around Pelican Bay all day. They'll probably all be back tomorrow. All this group activity makes the one Pelican who stayed behind last Summer seem even stranger.

I still haven't fixed the big divot in the front yard made by the speeding car a few weeks ago. My neighbor hasn't fixed her yard damage either. I wonder how long it would take for nature to just fix the problem naturally? The missing grass would eventually fill in. Erosion would round out the sharp gouge. In five years everything would probably look fine again. I probably can't get away with ignoring this for five years though.

It's back to the gym tomorrow. I'd better get the water off the roof too. There's no point in tempting fate. If I keep up my part of the bargain, maybe we can avoid further roof leaks for another year or two.

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

Friday, November 29, 2019

Day 3627

Lots of rain today. It was such a dismal, wet day that I decided to take my walk at the gym. This was a first. Driving in the rain to walk on an indoor track isn't something you'd expect of me. Surprisingly, it wasn't as bad as I thought. Walking five miles on an indoor oval track is much better than getting cold and wet in the park. I may do this again. There is no sensation  of distance when you are walking on an indoor track. The only sensation is of time. To my surprise, I completed my walk faster than I do in the park. This was probably because there were no hills to climb. I also passed people on the track, which almost never happens in the park. People in the park are young and fit. People at my gym are taking physical therapy or recovering from heart attacks. I often think I'm one of the younger members.

I had to pick up something for dinner on my way home from the gym and the store was almost empty. I guess everyone was eating leftovers today. Since it was a cold, rainy day I thought we'd have chili for dinner. Eating chili almost guarantees that I'll have heartburn later this evening, but it still seems like the perfect meal for a wet winter day.

I guess it's a good sign that there are still no roof leaks. We've had a ton of rain lately. The pumps on the roof have been working pretty well, but they don't even come close to removing all the water. At best, the pumps can turn four inches of standing water into one or two inches. To remove the rest I have to get up on the roof and sweep the water over the edge of the roof with a big push broom. When it eventually stops raining, that's what I'll be doing.

Ginny has discovered squirrels. We may have to start taking her out to pee on a leash again. A dog that is recovering from heartworm treatment shouldn't be running around the back yard trying to catch squirrels. All our dogs have liked to chase squirrels. Dot even caught a few. It doesn't help matters that there are a ton of squirrels in the park. They could care less where the park ends and our yard starts. I've seen up to a dozen of them in the yard at the same time.

I didn't do any Black Friday shopping today. Instead, I deleted hundreds of Black Friday messages from my e-mail inbox. The ads and e-mail spam are relentless. From now until Christmas, retailers are determined to sell me something. These guys should know that I'm not really their target audience anymore. I don't need much. Unless someone's going to offer me a Mercedes Sprinter van for half price, I'm not interested.

Fitbit says that I am sleeping better since Ginny has arrived.  This is a bit counterintuitive, but it makes sense to me. Having a warm dog next to you is comforting. I didn't sleep well when Dot and Dash were sick, but they needed lots of attention. When our dogs were young, we all slept well. Ginny certainly has no trouble sleeping. She is sleeping next to me right now.

Petey is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Thursday, November 28, 2019

Day 3626 - Thanksgiving

It was a nice relaxing day. We stopped cooking on Thanksgiving years ago and just go out to a nice restaurant. It's a no dishes, no stress holiday for us. I think we finally found the best Thanksgiving buffet in Dallas and we've been returning to the same place for the past four years.

Eating out on Thanksgiving is more popular than you might think. We see young couples, families of all sizes, retired people, and today there was a large family gathering of at least thirty people. The food is delicious. I just had a bagel and a cup of coffee this morning so I'd have room to try everything that looked good. Janet and I eat healthy all year long. This is probably the one time where we overindulge. We start with a salad plate of interesting salads, move on to a seafood plate, and then have a big plate of traditional Thanksgiving fare. You've got to have sweet potatoes with marshmallows on top at Thanksgiving. I finally decided that you don't have to eat turkey though. In recent years I'll have prime rib instead. There's something old fashioned about prime rib. It reminds me of going to Lawry's when I was younger.

We checked on Ginny using the iCam app while we were out. She was fine. She actually did better than Dot or Dash tended to do when left alone. As soon as we left the house, Ginny immediately went to her Kuranda bed and went to sleep. She was glad to see us when we got home though. I think she smelled that we had a treat for her almost immediately. We gave her a little bit of turkey and prime rib and she loved it. Ginny is such a sweet dog. It will be sad to see her leave, but I know she is going to a great home.

It was a lot warmer last Thanksgiving. This year it was pretty cold and nasty. It rained a lot last night and I got the pumps on the roof running as soon as I got up. I should have just taken a nap when we returned from dinner, but I decided to walk it off instead. This was probably a mistake because the light mist was still enough to get me quite wet after the first three miles. There was nobody in the park except for a few dedicated runners. It was very cold so I was wearing two coats. After an hour the outer coat was soaking wet and felt twice as heavy. My shoes were wet as well. I decided to cut the walk short so I could come home and warm up again. I guess the walk did me a little good. I don't feel as lethargic as I usually do after a huge meal.

Our backdrop for the Santa Paws events is coming from Singapore. We'll see how long it takes to get here. I think it shipped today. I have a feeling that it will arrive before our first event. DHL is usually pretty fast. I used to have to ship things internationally and was often amazed at how quickly air freight arrived. Hey, if it doesn't get here on time, I've still got plenty of backdrops from prior years.

Tomorrow, I'll make my travel arrangements for the NASA event at Michoud Assembly Facility. It's going to be a busy December. I definitely won't be going out to breakfast tomorrow. I'm so full I may not eat breakfast at all.

Scooter is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Day 3625

As Ginny continues to become more relaxed, she is acting more and more like every Dalmatian I have ever known. She is a velcro dog who follows me everywhere. I have to be careful not to trip over her because she is always nearby. If she wants something, she will nudge me with her snout or if I'm at my desk will slap me with a paw. Usually what she wants is food. If I'm up, she always heads straight to the kitchen. She loves to take naps and already has a favorite blanket. As luck would have it, I'm fond of naps too. Ginny is always right beside me on the bed. If this girl didn't already have a good home after she finishes recovering from her heartworm treatment, it would be very hard to take her back to the kennel.

We wanted to make sure that Ginny was comfortable being alone in the house, so we set up a camera to watch her in a safe gated area while we walked around the block. She wasn't frantic at all. She sat in her Kuranda bed looking at the door for a few minutes and then curled up and went to sleep. We repeated this exercise twice and she was fine both times. When we returned, she got off her bed and began following me around again. I'm glad she used the Kuranda bed. When we're here, she doesn't go near it and prefers the comfort of our large king-sized bed. Like I said, she appears to be a very normal Dalmatian.

When we were doing our little test, I was disappointed to discover that our Baby Monitor doesn't work anymore. I don't know when it broke. We haven't used it since Dash died. Luckily, there was an alternate way to keep an eye on Ginny. I still have the iCam app on my phone. Even though this app is very old, it still works. You can use any computer or another phone to sent the pictures and then you receive them on your iPhone. I wrote the Withings company to see if they could fix the broken Baby Monitor but I doubt there is much they can do. Like many things in our house, this handy monitor is too old.

I wrote the editor of Spaceflight Magazine to see if they'd be interested in an article about the Artemis Program and then signed up for a rental car loyalty program. Now that I'm visiting observatories and getting invited to NASA events, I'm renting more cars than I ever thought I would a few years ago. Maybe if this continues, I'll get a free rental one of these days.

I probably spent more time napping with Ginny than anything else today. I did take my five mile walk though when Janet returned from her errands. Walking is when I think and plan things. I'm not sure how much good this does since my mind wanders and much of what I'm thinking about evaporates as soon as I return home. Even though I'm not a disciplined planner, I do think I'm making progress. I've been to Johnson Space Center, Kennedy Space Center, and McDonald Observatory this year. Oh, and I managed to see the Big Boy steam engine in operation too. Hopefully, by this time next year I'll be able to add more interesting things to this list.

No fruit smoothie for me tomorrow morning. Thanksgiving dinner is almost an all day event and I need to save room for some holiday indulgence.

Spots is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Day 3624

There's a dog in the house again. So far, Ginny seems to be enjoying her vacation. We picked her up at the kennel this afternoon and the place was already filling up with holiday boarding customers. She definitely rides better in the car than Hank or Jasmine. We made it home without any vomiting or frantic barking. It didn't take Ginny long at all to relax and make herself at home. She's definitely a Dalmatian. Within an hour she was taking a nap on our bed. She's a counter surfer too and took a great interest in the way I was fixing my dinner this evening.

I think a few days of peace and quiet will be good for Ginny. When the kennel is crowded, she barks a lot. This is pretty normal. When one dog starts barking they all start barking. We haven't heard a peep out of her at the house. She's curious and follows us around like glue but she is very gentle and well behaved. Ginny has already found her forever home but she can't join her new family until she finishes her heartworm treatment because they have other dogs. She needs to remain quiet for a while longer as the remaining worms continue to die. It won't be long though. In just two more weeks she'll be ready to run and play with her new friends. I hope she enjoys her new life. The family who adopted her certainly got a wonderful dog.

I took my walk today before we went to the kennel. What happened to our nice weather? It was still warm but very humid and overcast with a few light showers. I got wet but it was OK. I'm used to walking in the rain. The roof got wet as well, but I think the repairs I made the other day had plenty of time to dry. We'll see if there are any problems. I think more rain is expected later in the week.

I need to start making my travel plans for the trip to the Michoud Assembly Facility and Stennis Space Center soon. I'm not wild about arriving in New Orleans at night, but that's the way it's got to be. I'll try to find a hotel near the NASA facility. As long as I get a rental car with GPS navigation, I'll be fine. I still wish this event didn't start at 7 AM, but what are you going to do? I'm not going to complain. I feel lucky that I got selected to attend this special event.

I think our new photo backdrop is going to ship tomorrow. I'm real curious where this is coming from. I'm pretty sure these backdrops are printed on demand in China when you order them, but there is no address for the company on their website. The website is well designed and the shopping cart storefront works well. Customer service is responsive too, even though you can tell that English is clearly a second language. They must ship the backdrops by air freight. They promised to meet a very tight deadline that some companies here in the states couldn't deliver on. I hope this works out. Just having a lightweight backdrop that you can throw in the washing machine if a dog pees on it is a game changer.

It's too bad Ginny can't take a walk with me tomorrow morning. She'd enjoy it. You've got to be real careful when dogs are recovering from the heartworm medication though. They need to stay very quiet until all the worms are out of their system. One squirrel could ruin everything.

Pepper is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Monday, November 25, 2019

Day 3623

Whenever I go to the eye doctor, I'm always tempted to get out of the chair when nobody's looking and go take a closer look at the eye chart. It would be easy to just memorize the bottom line of letters so I would have a perfect score. That bottom line of tiny letters always looks fuzzy to me, but it is the only one the doctor is interested in. I can read the larger letters just fine.

The doctor told me basically the same thing he told me last year. My distance vision is still 20/20. My close up vision is slowly deteriorating. And I am developing cataracts. Apparently cataracts are extremely common as we age. I won't need to do anything about mine for at least another five years, but according to the doctor they aren't going away. They say that researchers have discovered a compound that can safely remove cataracts without surgery. They've only tried the eye drops on mice so far, but maybe they'll be available five years from now. I'd definitely prefer eye drops to surgery.

The worst thing about these annual eye exams is driving home with your eyes dilated. I wore dark sunglasses but the road was still pretty bright. Luckily the effect wore off pretty quickly this year. Within a few hours after I returned home, I was able to take my walk in the park. I think I'm good for another year.

I went to the storage warehouse and picked up some kiddie gates, a large crate, a dog bed, and Dot's food and water bowls for our Thanksgiving guest. Janet picked up some food at the vet. We'll be keeping Ginny at our house during the Thanksgiving holiday. Treasure gets a holiday vacation with another volunteer as well. Some of the dogs will stay at the kennel, but hopefully this will help keep things from becoming too crowded. Ginny is still recovering from her heartworm treatment and needs to stay quiet. Kennels are definitely not very quiet during the holiday rush. There's a lot of barking going on. I think our house is the perfect alternative for a dog who needs her rest. Very little happens here.

I found out today that my background check has been completed and that I have been approved to stay on Mount Locke for an extended period of time. The public affairs director at the observatory said that they would be looking forward to seeing me next year. This is good news. I've got a lot of planning to do. The first obstacle to overcome is finding a place to stay. I could always rent an RV for my initial visit, but I'd rather stay at the astronomer's lodge or some type of permanent housing at the observatory. Almost 100 people live on-site. Some of them are temporary. Maybe I could make arrangements to rent somebody's place while they weren't there. This can all be worked out. I doubt that I will be returning to the Davis Mountains until next Spring anyway.

I need to write Spaceflight Magazine and see whether they'd be interested in an article about my upcoming trip to the Michoud Assembly Facility. It's not a launch, but it still could be very interesting. The first of the Space Launch System rockets that will return the United States to the moon is nearing completion at Michoud now. If I can follow this rocket on it's journey through testing and launch, it would make a good story. The launch is still over a year away though. We'll see what I discover in New Orleans. There's always a story somewhere.

I hope that Ginny enjoys her stay at our house. I'm a little nervous and a little excited. They say Ginny sometimes tears up her bed. Hey, it happens. We've got an indestructible Kuranda bed for her, so she should be fine. There's a lot on my plate for a guy who does nothing. A NASA adventure, an interesting volunteer opportunity at a distant observatory, and a dog around the house for a while. It's going to keep me busy.

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

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Day 3622

It was a typical busy Sunday. I got my 20,000 steps with a few extra to spare. It was a nice day so I went to the gym early to give myself time to make some more roof repairs when I returned. Sometimes I wonder if going to the gym on Sunday does me any good at all. I've noticed that walking for an hour and a half burns more calories than an hour and a half at the gym. I guess a little variety doesn't hurt. My workout at the gym is certainly different than a long walk.

It took a while to find additional worn spots on the roof. I'm gradually getting them all repaired. I didn't apply a lot of silicon today, but hopefully the strategic small repairs I made will help. I don't think I will ever have faith in this roof, but if I can keep it from leaking until I can find a reasonable bid from a reputable roofer, that's good enough for me. It looks like I have a little less than a gallon of the silicon material left. I'll save the rest for emergencies. Hopefully, there won't be any.

I sent my acceptance letter to NASA today, so I will definitely be attending the Artemis Day event at the Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. I've seen pictures of this enormous rocket factory and it will be interesting to see the next moon rockets being assembled. The first one is almost ready to be shipped to the Stennis Space Center in Mississippi for live fire tests. Hopefully, I will find a way to see it again when it eventually launches from pad 39B at Kennedy Space Center sometime in 2021.

Our road is open again. I was amazed at how much the construction crews were able to accomplish in a single day. All the beams that will support the roadway on the first half of the bridge are in place now. It looks like there will be no support columns between the Northbound and Southbound lanes anymore. The long steel beams span the entire length of the bridge. There must have been a huge crane to lift these beams in place but I didn't see it. I was asleep. Most of the work must have taken place last night.

It looks like we will be keeping one of the rescue dogs over the Thanksgiving holiday. Boarding kennels are typically booked to capacity over the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays so we are trying to find temporary short-term fosters for some of the Dalmatian Rescue dogs. Hopefully, this new experience will be good for the dogs. I'll have to go pick up kiddie gates, dog beds, water and food bowls, and other paraphernalia from the storage warehouse tomorrow.

I'm kind of dreading my appointment with the eye doctor. My doctor is kind of old school and doesn't have an Optomap camera to take pictures of the retina. He still dilates my eyes which I hate. It takes me about six hours for the effects of the eye drops to wear off. They give you a pair of paper sun glasses but they don't help much. I never enjoy driving home after an eye exam.

McDonald Observatory has scheduled a Special Viewing Night for the 82" Otto Struve Telescope on December 16. It's tempting. That's when the Starliner launch is supposed to happen at Kennedy Space Center too. What are my chances of getting off the wait list and invited to the launch? Honestly, chances are slim but it could easily happen. It also snows in West Texas in December. There's that too. I'll probably just fret and end up doing nothing.

Maggie is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Saturday, November 23, 2019

Day 3621

There are two entrances to the grocery store I went to this morning. People usually enter and exit whatever door is more convenient. Today the store designated one door as "entrance only" and the other as "exit only" and insisted that customers use the proper door. This seemed to irritate people. I have apparently always been entering the store through the exit. Other people seemed to want to leave the store through the entrance. Why would the store do this? I couldn't figure it out. Would this improve store security? Did it create a more efficient traffic flow? Who knows. The only thing I saw were irritated customers.

I cleared the standing water off the roof today. There was a lot of water on the roof and there are still no leaks inside the house. Maybe my repairs worked. Keeping this roof free of water has become my own version of Sisyphus and the stone. I have a feeling that I'm going to be doing this forever. It's going to be a lot warmer tomorrow, so if the roof is completely dry I might try one more round of repairs with the remaining silicon material I have.

Although it was a clear, sunny day, it was still pretty chilly outside. I'm glad I wore a coat on my walk. There was a Christmas art fair in one of the park buildings today. There was a time when I would have stopped and taken a look around. I've bought things at this fair before. Times have changed though. I'm not trying to acquire stuff anymore. There's way too much clutter in the house already. The last thing we need are more things hanging on the walls. I hope all the artists did well, but my collecting days are over.

It was time to remove water under the shower tiles with the wet/dry vac this afternoon. I have to do this at least once a month now. When I emptied the water when I was finished I discovered that there was a lizard inside the vacuum. The lizard didn't seemed harmed, but I felt bad anyway. It must have been terrifying being inside a vacuum cleaner canister for an hour while it was running. I need to remember to check for lizards before I vacuum again.

I was wrong about our road being completely closed today. Traffic was still flowing. It just had to detour around the bridge. I had plans to avoid the bridge completely today while I was running my errands, but I forgot and ended up taking the detour myself. I'll be glad then this construction is finished. Unfortunately it is not going to happen soon. Building a bridge is complicated.

I need to start making my travel plans soon. I love attending these NASA events. I just don't like the process of getting there. I feel the same way about going to McDonald Observatory. It's too bad I was born several centuries to soon for teleportation. I'd be one of the first to say "Beam me up, Scotty."

It's time to go to the gym again. Will I ever do this more than once a week? There just doesn't seem to be enough time. I guess my five mile walks will have to suffice. Outdoor walks are more fun than a treadmill anyway.

Petey is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Friday, November 22, 2019

Day 3620

I got waitlisted for the Starliner launch. This pretty much means that I won't be going. Not a lot of people get invited to these launches and very few decide that they don't want to go after they receive an invitation. Cancelations do happen but they are rare. Hey, at least I got accepted to one of the two events I applied for. Strangely, I think there will be more cancelations  for the Michoud Assembly Facility event. It begins at 7 AM. Why so early? I was hoping to fly to New Orleans on the same day as the event to avoid an extra night in a hotel. That's not going to happen. The earliest flights leaving Dallas won't get me there in time.

It rained a lot last night but I haven't been up on the roof yet. It was a windy, cold day and I didn't feel like dealing with the standing water. I'm going to have faith in my repairs and wait until the weather warms up a bit. I may regret this decision, but so far there are no signs of a leak. I think the weather will be much warmer on Sunday. Let's see if I can postpone this awful task for a few days.

The highway department is closing down our street again tonight. Something major must be happening with the bridge construction again. This new shutdown only lasts for one day, so there won't be as much of a disruption as there was before. It will be a little harder to go to the grocery store tomorrow, but it will be a lot easier to get out of the driveway without any traffic. I still don't know why they are replacing this bridge. So far, the new bridge doesn't look any bigger or better than the old one.

Everybody is already making fun of Tesla's new pickup truck. They are saying that this Bladerunner inspired design won't be popular. This is probably true because it appears that the target market is me. I like this thing, even though I will probably never buy an electric car because I'm deeply suspicious of lithium ion batteries. I admire the fact that nothing appears to slow Elon Musk down. His spaceship blew up in Boca Chica a couple of days ago and his live test of the Tesla pickup's shatterproof windows was a disaster. These problems will be fixed and Musk will just keep moving along. I still think he's going to get to Mars before NASA.

It was still raining when I woke up this morning, so I didn't go out for breakfast. I probably would have stayed home even if it had been a nice day. It was a good run while it lasted, but I'm starting to get tired of my Friday breakfast outings. I've tried everything in dozens of restaurants and nothing appeals to me anymore. I just had a bowl of cold cereal and a cup of coffee today. I think I need to start buying more fruit so I can have my smoothie on Friday as well.

I'm disappointed that I won't be able to visit the Dalmatians next Monday. I just realized that I have an appointment with the eye doctor and it's too late to change it. Actually the NASA event in New Orleans begins on a Monday as well. I need to do a better job of planning ahead. I need to block out Monday's on my calendar forever. It's really the only good day to spend a lot of time with the dogs. The kennel is too busy on other days.

I guess I'd better put a bucket out tonight. I don't think the roof will leak, but you never know. Better safe than sorry I say.

Chelsey is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Thursday, November 21, 2019

Day 3619

It looks like December is going to be very busy. We have three Santa Paws photo events scheduled in December and I just learned today that I got accepted to attend Artemis Day at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. I'm still waiting to hear about the Starliner launch at Kennedy Space Center. If I get accepted for that as well, it's going to be a really busy month.

I ordered a new photo backdrop this afternoon and am hoping it gets here in time for our first Santa Paws event. I didn't think this would be a problem until I completed the order and realized that the backdrop was being shipped directly from China. I should have known. The last backdrop I ordered was made in Mexico. I don't think anyone in the United States makes these things anymore. These photo realistic backdrops are produced on demand. The website said to allow six days for production and another six days for shipping. That's cutting it close, but if these are realistic times, we'll be fine.

It looks like the process to get me clearance to spend time at McDonald Observatory is finally underway. Some of the delay has been my fault. For some odd reason some of the forms I need to fill out have been sent to my regular e-mail address and others to a seldom used Gmail account. I hardly ever check the Gmail account. The only reason I even have it is that some places demand an alternate e-mail address for security purposes. I don't know why I checked the Gmail account today, but it was a good thing I did. The form that starts the whole approval process has been sitting in my in-box for two weeks.

I'm trying to learn to identify trees by the shape of their leaves. This is a good time to do this since the  park is littered with falling leaves. The Oak, Elm, and Pecan trees were easy to identify, since we have these in our yard. The Live Oaks were pretty easy too. This left dozens of mystery trees. I think I identified the leaves from Cottonwood, Bald Cyprus, Bodark, Flameleaf Sumac, and Sweetgum trees today. Hey, I need something to do now that all the wildflowers are gone.

This week has gone quickly. Basically I've just spent my time walking through the park, but I've got a lot of irons in the fire. Can I come up with an interesting article about a visit to the moon rocket factory? I still really want my space adventures to be published. Is my Christmas photo backdrop going to arrive in time for the first Santa Paws event? Where am I going to stay if I get credentials to stay at the observatory for an extended time? I don't have an RV and am unlikely to get one. Do I really need to see an orthopedic surgeon about my shoulder? Where are all these stupid ants coming from? I think about these things while I walk thought the woods looking at leaves.

Ranger is today's Dalmatian of the Day
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Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Day 3618

I stopped and talked with a guy who owned a Sprinter van while I was on my walk this morning. I've seen this guy in the park before and was curious how he liked his truck. After hearing tales about expensive Mercedes repairs and difficulties in driving around town, I had second thoughts about ever getting one of these things. He said he couldn't make u-turns because of the wide turning radius and couldn't use a lot of city parking areas because the truck was too tall to fit under the height restriction gates. A lot of these gates are pretty low. I had trouble getting the Defender under them. There were a lot of other little problems I never anticipated as well. So much for the idea of using a big van as a daily driver. The guy said he loves his truck for camping trips but drives his wife's Subaru whenever he can. I guess I'll put this idea on the back burner for a while.

Before taking my walk, I took some mail to the post office and stopped at the grocery store to get a Cadence Kitchen flash frozen meal for dinner. I thought I would pick the meal with the lowest salt content and ended up getting prime rib with mushrooms and onions. It was definitely milder than the spicy selections I usually choose. I guess if I was really worried about sodium, I would skip these easy to prepare meals and just cook something from scratch. Somehow, I don't think that's going to happen.

Don't let today's picture confuse you. I took it yesterday. Today the weather was overcast and dreary. I kept expecting it to rain, but luckily it never did. I think my roof repairs will be OK. It's weird that the weather makes such a huge difference in my attitude. Yesterday I was feeling good. Today was pretty dismal and it was all because of the weather. I'm hearing thunder now as well. Thunder is never a good sign.

I was wrong about photo backdrops. It turns out that there are still lots of different types of backdrops available. I was just looking in the wrong places. The technology is different now. Instead of hand painted muslin backdrops, there are lots of photo realistic designs that are printed on fabric that is wrinkle free and easily washable. These new designs are more expensive than the backdrops I used to buy, but if you can wash them they might actually save money in the long run. It's interesting that even in a weird little category like this, everything changes.

Will I ever become comfortable with change? Probably not. I could live comfortably in a world with typewriters instead of computers, carburetors instead of fuel injection, film instead of SD Cards, and wall phones instead of cell phones. I'm old school. I use my high speed fiber optic network to watch Perry Mason movies.

I am glad that someone invented the Vitamix blender and the Keurig coffee maker though. My breakfast wouldn't be nearly as enjoyable tomorrow without these handy gadgets.

Puppies are today's Dalmatians of the Day
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Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Day 3617

I didn't really expect that it would be 75 degrees today. Just a few weeks ago I could have sworn that winter had arrived. I doubt that this unseasonably warm weather will last very long, but I was happy for the reprieve. I'll take a beautiful Indian Summer day any time I can get one.

The nice weather certainly didn't inspire me to do anything useful. I fixed my morning smoothie, checked my e-mail, made a few minor updates to an animal rescue website, and took my walk. That was about it for the day.

It wasn't surprising that there were a lot of people out in the park. There were no jackets and wool hats today. Everybody was wearing shorts. I wish days like this were more common in Dallas. I finished my entire walk without freezing or sweating. This is the way is should be. Unfortunately, there is rain in the forecast for later in the week.

The spare bulbs for my Norman strobes arrived this morning. We still can't decide whether to buy a new backdrop for this years Santa Paws photos. I have a ton of Christmas themed muslin backdrops from previous years, but since we get a lot of the same customers year after year, it's always nice to have something new. There used to be an abundance of hand painted muslin photo backdrops available, but that's not the case anymore. More and more photographers just use a green screen and insert a backdrop electronically using compositing software. Call me old fashioned, but I still prefer a real hand painted backdrop. I guess it's time to go to the storage warehouse and see what I have. We've been doing the Santa Paws pictures for a long time and there are a lot of old backdrops to choose from. Janet and I only found one interesting new pattern this year and after looking at it for a while, realized that we already had it. Like I said, nobody makes these things anymore.

I keep hoping to hear something from NASA, Sky and Telescope, or McDonald Observatory. I have lots of travel plans floating around in my head, but so far everything is still in limbo. I guess it's OK that things are moving slowly. It gives me something to think about on my walks. I still don't know where I'd live if I get approved to stay at the observatory this Spring. I'm not sure what I'd write about if I attend the Starliner launch either. Is there a story here? I guess I can't call myself a space journalist unless I can prove that there is.

I still can't figure out where the ants are coming from. These little sweet ants are so small you can barely see them, but there are everywhere. I've been bitten at night while I sleep and I found one inside my sock today. It really doesn't do much good to use bug spray if you don't know where they are coming from. You can't kill ants one at a time.

I hope that the weather stays nice tomorrow. One more dry day and I'll feel a lot more confident that my roof patches have fully cured. A dry day won't make me confident about anything else, but you've got to take what you can get.

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

Monday, November 18, 2019

Day 3616

We spent another enjoyable afternoon with the Dalmatians. All the dogs are doing well. Lord is finally gaining some confidence. We've discovered that he enjoys being with Sock and is more likely to try things when they are together. Sock isn't the world's best role model, but it's a start. Both these dogs seem to gain confidence by being together. It was a warm, sunny afternoon and Treasure just wanted to sit outside in the sun with us. She gets the gold star for chilling out today. I hope that whoever adopts Charlie will train him to be an agility dog. Charlie is extremely smart with an enormous amount of energy. We've made more progress training him than with any of the others so far. He definitely needs a task to do and tries to please. I think he would do great at agility. Hank's new diet seems to have solved his health issues. He's been stable for well over a month now with no vomiting or bloody stools. Hank is ready for a home. Ginny is ready too. She just needs to remain quiet for a few more weeks while she recovers from her heartworm treatment. We spent some extra time with Jasmine today. It might be the last time we see her before she goes to her forever home. Such a great group of dogs. They were much more enjoyable than spending the afternoon with a bunch of people.

I'm glad I finished most of my errands and chores over the weekend because there wasn't time for much today. All I did after we returned from the kennel was take my regular walk. It was a very nice day, but darkness comes way too quickly at this time of the year. The sun was already setting when I completed my first three miles. I thought if I kept going that I might be able to see Jupiter and Venus in the evening sky. At mile four both of these planets were shining brightly. A little later I was able to see Saturn as well. I'm still not wild about walking at night, but this was an enjoyable evening.

It was completely dark when I returned home but the sky still wasn't dark enough to see many stars. Light pollution is terrible in Dallas. Basically all you can see are the brighter planets and the moon. City skies really make me miss Fort Davis. I'd probably feel safer wandering around this quiet little town at night too. Dallas was a good place to work because the economy has always been good and there were lots of jobs. My little company did well in Dallas. I'm not so sure this city a great place to retire. Cities don't have a lot of appeal anymore. The best thing about living in a city is access to good medical care and fewer snakes. I wouldn't be bored in the country but I would worry about snakes.

The next time I hear leaf blowers next door I need to ask the neighbor's yard guy if he could fix my front yard. I definitely don't want to haul a big load of dirt in my car. The neighbor's yard has a big divot in it as well, so maybe he could fix both at the same time. Filling the hole that the off course car made isn't a huge priority but it does need to be done. Right now it looks like someone threw a grenade in the yard.

I've got the schedule for Santa Paws pictures now. I just need to find out what's happening with the NASA events. Whether I attend another launch or not, it looks like its going to be a busy December.

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

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Day 3615

A loud crash woke me up last night. Even though I was half asleep, I knew I'd heard this noise before. Either a tree had fallen in the back yard or a drunk driver had driven through our front yard. I looked out the window and all the remaining trees were still standing. As I returned to bed I heard a fire truck approach and stop a few hundred yards past our house. Yep. It was a drunk driver again. This morning I confirmed what I already knew. A car had left the road at high speed, traveled through our neighbor's yard, sailed over our driveway, knocked a big divot out of our yard, bounced into our other neighbor's yard, and the returned to the street where it probably landed on its roof. Believe it or not, this has happened at least six times since we've lived here.

The city has three large strategically placed signs indicating that the road turns to the left but it doesn't seem to make any difference. An hour after the bars close, some people just keep driving straight. These accidents always happen between 2:30 and 3 AM. Luckily our house has escaped damage but the neighbors haven't been so lucky. Once, one of these cars took out the neighbor's fence. Another car knocked over a large Crepe Myrtle tree in the other neighbor's yard. Years ago, a car actually hit this neighbor's house. I wish there was a way to just eliminate drunks and substance abusers. The world would be a better place.

Amazingly, I managed to get everything done today. I returned some of the items we used at the adoption event yesterday to the storage warehouse, filled the car with gas, and did all my grocery shopping with time to spare. There was still plenty of time to go to the gym. After my workout, I decided that it was warm enough to go up on the roof and make a few more repairs.

The big bucket of liquid silicon is finally light enough that I could lift the entire the entire thing to the roof. This made the job a little easier and a lot less messy. There is no need to transfer the silicon to a smaller bucket anymore. I swept a thick blanket of pecan leaves off the roof before I started my repairs and then applied about a gallon of the material. We'll see if this helps. I can't see any bad spots, but that doesn't mean that there aren't any.

The sun was already low in the sky before I started my walk. I wondered if I'd be able to make it home before sunset. I wish we hadn't bothered with the time change. I don't really care when the sun comes up in the morning but I do enjoy a little daylight in the afternoon. I had to cut my walk a little short today because I didn't feel like walking in the dark.

I hate the thought of fixing the front yard again. I can fill the big hole with dirt and put in some new St. Augustine sod, but it will just get destroyed again. It might be next month or it might be five years from now, but this won't be the last time that someone driving home after the bars close fails to notice  that the road is no longer straight.

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

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Day 3614

We took Jasmine with us to Petfair today. It's been a while since we've participated in this annual event, but the rescue program has a lot of dogs now and we wanted to give them a little extra exposure. Jasmine was a good candidate to be an ambassador for Dalmatian Rescue. She loves people, is good with other animals, and is less scared of new situations than some of the other newcomers.

Being at a public event was completely new to Jasmine. She'd never even worn a harness before. It took her a while to get used to wearing the harness before we left the kennel this morning. I don't think she ever got used to riding in the car. I wish we'd known ahead of time that Jasmine gets carsick. She threw up several times before we arrived at the adoption event. As soon as the car stopped, she was fine. I understood what she was going through. As a kid, I used to get carsick all the time. I've thrown up in cars, ships, and planes all over the world. We'll know in the future to give Jasmine Cerenia before she takes a car trip.

Jasmine was a little shy when we first arrived at the event. This was all new to her. It didn't take long for her to discover the smell of hamburgers on the grill however. Every time I would take her on a little walk, she would head straight for the big smoker in the back where they were grilling hot dogs and hamburgers. We bought her a hamburger without any seasonings and she loved it. After a few bites of her burger she decided that rescue events weren't so bad after all.

Despite her problems with motion sickness, Jasmine had a very good day. Someone has been interested in Jasmine for a while and her adoption was finalized today. She will be going to her forever home soon. A lot of people enjoyed saying hello to Jasmine this afternoon. Everybody loved her. Maybe her afternoon as a rescue ambassador will help some of our other dogs find their forever homes as well.

It was a long day for all of us, but it was a good one. I think Jasmine was glad to be back in her comfy bed when we returned to the kennel. She was tired and ready for a nap. I was ready to throw my clothes in the washing machine when we returned home. For some reason Jasmine felt most comfortable throwing up when she was sitting in my lap in the car

Tomorrow should be a busy day as well. I will need to finish all of my Saturday errands before I can start my Sunday errands. I should still be able to find time to go to the gym, but I doubt that it will be a 20,000 step day. I've got my priorities. If it's still nice outside tomorrow, I'm going up on the roof and try to find the last of the torn spots. As always, more rain is on the way.

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

Friday, November 15, 2019

Day 3613

I didn't feel like going out for breakfast this morning. I stayed home and had a piece of pie. Pie is comfort food. Sometimes you need pie for breakfast. It was actually a good idea that I stayed home this morning. It turned out to be a busy day.

I finally discovered why I wasn't hearing anything from McDonald Observatory. They wrote and told me they never received my application. This was very strange because I actually called back in October after I sent all the application material to make sure they had what they needed. There was no point in arguing about this though. I just sent everything they requested again. This time two different people, one in Austin and another at the observatory, acknowledged receiving the material, so I guess I'm OK. This is essentially starting over, but there's no hurry. If I'm accepted to stay on-site at the mountain, I won't be leaving until late Spring or early Summer anyway.

After the big snafu at the observatory, I decided to go ahead and apply for the second NASA event at the Michoud Assembly Facility. Maybe one of these applications will get lost as well. I might as well just apply for everything that looks halfway interesting. Maybe something will stick. The only complicating factor with the two December NASA events is that they are both scheduled back-to-back with Dalmatian Rescue Santa Photo events. If I get accepted I will need to fly out of town right after completing a busy day of pet photography. I guess this won't kill me. Back in the day, I used to frequently leave on business trips after a busy day at work.

All this being said, I don't enjoy being busy anymore. Doing one thing a day is plenty. Some days just going to the post office is enough. I don't know how people with families and lots of obligations handle the holidays. It would drive me insane. Maybe it's just an age thing. I used to be much busier when I was younger. When I look back, I have no idea how I accomplished all the things that used to seem routine.

Just adding a few extra things to my normal routine today wore me out. It took quite a while to get my application straightened out with the observatory. Then there were November bills to pay. After I went to the post office, there were prescriptions to pick up and I needed to get some things at the grocery store. Finally, Janet and I went to my storage warehouse to look for stuff we needed for tomorrow's adoption event. It was dark before I finished my five mile walk.

We haven't done an off-site adoption event for Dalmatian Rescue in ages. Hopefully, this will go well.  We've got everything we need for our booth now and will go up to the kennel to pick up a dog first thing in the morning. Like so many other things, it's hard to believe that we used to do this all the time.

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

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Day 3612

Ginny has completed her heartworm treatment. We picked her up at the vet this morning and took her back to the boarding kennel. She rides well in the car now, immediately hopping in the back seat and waiting for me to join her. Ginny is much less fearful now. Maybe she knows that she will have a home soon. I think she will be the next to be adopted.

The kennel was too busy for us to play with the dogs today, but we made sure to say hello to each of them and give them a treat. This is a great group of Dalmatians. It's not surprising that they are finding homes quickly. We spent some time with each of them in their kennel runs before we left. The dogs were so friendly. It was like they were inviting us into their homes for tea.

Not much else happened today. We stopped at CostCo on the way home and then I took my walk. Winter has made a temporary retreat. Today was just what you'd expect a Fall day to be. The sky was clear. The leaves are turning beautiful shades of red and gold. There are already more leaves on the ground than on the trees. On a nice day they crunch under your feet as you walk through them.

I made another attempt at contacting McDonald Observatory today but couldn't reach the person I was looking for. I ended up just leaving a message. I'll quit bothering these people for a while. They're busy. I'm not. I still can't decide whether to try and attend Artemis Day at the Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. Opportunities to tour this facility are rare and it would be quite interesting. On the other hand, I've heard rumors that NASA is starting to frown on people who try to attend all of their events. They don't want the same people attending over and over again. Would it hurt my chances of going to the Starliner launch if I try to go to Artemis Day too? Who knows. It's all out of my hands anyway.

I did find the modeling light bulbs I need for my Norman strobe lights and ordered two of them. Twenty dollars a bulb seems a bit steep for a simple halogen bulb, but what are you going to do. At least I don't need a new flash tube. Those cost several hundred dollars. Here's hoping that nothing breaks during this year's Santa photo season. I hate replacing this stuff.

I'm a little disappointed that I'm not getting any stronger even though I've been walking five miles a day for quite a while now. The walks are still tiring and I always feel like taking a nap when I return home. I have to remember that all the people passing me on the trails are in their twenties. I haven't seen a lot of walkers in their seventies.

This week went quickly. Not a lot was accomplished, but nothing went wrong. The trash has been taken to the curb and I'm trying to decide what to do about breakfast tomorrow. I guess I'll need to go out to eat. No smoothie tomorrow. All the fresh fruit is gone.

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